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What Do Preteens Do On the Internet?

Updated on March 17, 2013

How Kids Use the Computer and Internet

In order to make sure I understood the up and coming tween* market, I put on my investigative journalist hat and interviewed three people about what kinds of things they look up on the internet. One was an eleven-year-old girl living in a small town, another was an eleven-year-old boy living in a big city, and the third was a parent. Since all three of them listed the same categories, I felt I had a representative sample and could accurately report my findings to you.

In order to avoid personal questions, I asked them "What kinds of things do you and kids your age search for on the internet? What do they Google?"

I thought it would help me figure out what kinds of hubs to write. All three of them answered with types of things they do on the internet. I think that words like "search" and "Google" have taken on bigger meanings than in my day. Because things are easy to find, the searching part is a negligible part of their internet experience.

* A tween is a person who is in the life stage between childhood and adolescent, basically 10 - 12 years old, also known as preadolescence. Some people add eight- and nine-year-old kids in the category as well.

Here are the results:

Do you ever wonder what these kids look for when they go on the internet?
Do you ever wonder what these kids look for when they go on the internet? | Source


Kids search for images of things that interest them. If they are interested in a musical instrument, they may search for photographs of that instrument. There are many different kinds of guitars, for example, so they search for cool variations of guitars.

They also look for images of things to draw. For example, the tween boy who was interviewed wanted to draw a camel for a school project. He found a photograph of a camel as a reference, so he could draw it.

He also looked for images of characters in a game to draw them. He did not share these images with friends. They were all basically for personal use.


Both the kids said they enjoyed playing games on the internet, so they search for internet games.

The parent said his son looks up information about his favorite game, League of Legends. He looks up information about new characters, role simulations, and related topics.

They also look for hacks for games they enjoy away from the computer, such as their Xbox games.

School Work

Both of the tweens said that the only information they seek is for school. They look up what something is, or how to spell a word, a meaning of a particular word, or research a topic for a project. They may use Google translator to help them with their foreign language class.

They both said that they do not search for information for their personal use, such as how to deal with parents, teachers, or the opposite sex. They said that they prefer to ask their parents for that type of information.

These girls are singing now, but they also spend time on the internet and search for photographs.
These girls are singing now, but they also spend time on the internet and search for photographs. | Source

The parent mentioned that this was a faster-paced, results-oriented process.

The teacher may be upset because all of the child's sources for a research project are from the internet. If all the information can be found on the internet, why look for other mediums such as books and magazines? There is scholarly information and scientific analysis available on the internet now, and doing things the long way with books and periodicals does not necessarily provide additional value.

You Tube

Both the kids said they look for videos, particularly of funny things. They enjoy comedy and watching entertaining videos.

Tween Poll

What does your Tween Do on the Internet?

See results

Younger Kids

These results will also be the similar for children that are younger. They are basically looking to the internet for help with their school projects, and for entertainment. Younger children will generally have further restrictions on which sites they can visit, and may be limited to playing parent and teacher chosen games such as math and critical thinking games, instead of simply fun games they choose for themselves. The level of the school work will obviously vary according to their grade.

Summary of Findings

There you have it. Tweens look for games, entertaining videos, and images. The information they search is basically oriented to completing schoolwork questions and projects.

They do not seek information of a personal nature. That must come as they get older.

Comments: "What Do Tweens Do On the Internet? "

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    • profile image

      Tweenboy 5 years ago

      This is all wrong. The only thing I use the Internet for is to rub one out to something on pornhub.

    • profile image

      Noah 5 years ago

      P.s. I also think video games are HORRIBLE for kids under the age of... 13 unless they're good games like all the games on are really great for kids and they're fun another thing I would not let my kid look up cheats online EVER because its teaching them the wrong principles I can't get pass this so I'll just take the easy way out I'll just cheat my little brother who is 11 has been exposed to to many bad video games like call of duty, max payne, hitman, stuff like that and now everything he sees he compares to a video game I'd suggest 1 hour of video games a day TOPS and PLEASE pay attention to the ratings the big M for mature that means 17+ the big E for everyone that means 10+ the big T for teens that means 13+ those are the ratings I'm living in this world with you guys and I don't want it to end up with a bunch of corrupt and ignorant minds so please let your kids explore the Internet it honestly helps and please limit video games don't let the video games become the temporary babysitter like my step mom does it doesn't work out so stop! Thanks for reading bye!

    • profile image

      Noah 5 years ago

      I'm 14 now have been using the Internet my whole life I'm still fine I don't think you need to worry about what kind of information they're gonna get they're just learning more things about the REAL world we're all gonna find out sooner or later sometime it just happens to be sooner it doesn't corrupt the mind though I get straight A's I'm a freashman and I know more than I probably should but it makes everything easier EVERYTHING comes together in this world he more you know the more relations you find between things and then you realize how simple everything really is take the perfect ratio or the golden ratio this number is found EVERYWHERE in angles of structures size differences in your body the amount of one chemical compared to another in certain areas and I learned his from the Internet and just that bit of information has helped me expand on broader subjects that would be hard to just stab into a mind not ready for it the one and only reason you should be scared is if your kid is stupid or ignorant as in giving into sexual predators and the info that they give out now I give out my phone number town I live in full name and age on the Internet because that's the stuff people need to have to contact me my friends parents the people I work and clients with because I play music for people as long as they don't agree to meet up with someone they don't know or haven't seen in PERSON the it's fine! Cyberbullying I've heard people complain about a lot but let me tell you as a teen as a victim and as someone who has seen it EVERYWHERE parents honestly take it toooooo seriously NO ONE will harm them selves or others over something someone said on the Internet that might be what blew up the dynamite BUT its not what ignited the fuse something else is going on at school or somewhere else these words im sitting here typing cannot destroy someone WITHOUT some context without the victim being bullied at school or being depressed from family issues. Well just thought it'd be nice to have the insight of a teen on here by the way I knew how to erase the history on a computer and browse privately by the time I was 10 no joke and all my friends did too just a heads up.

    • profile image

      Someone 5 years ago

      Basically watch My Little Pony. What has this world come to?

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks tirelesstraveler. I've seen some things that were made with ducttape - they were amazing. It is interesting how creative and useful these products made from something we formerly used to sloppily hold something together can be.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Good idea to interview kids to discover writing topics. One of my tween nieces shops for duct tape on line. She is interested in designing clothing and accessories. She used duct tape to produce her line. Her bags and purses are amazing.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Timetraveler2, I see what you mean. At that age, they want to do fun things, and who wants to learn and study when you already are doing that all day anyway.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      I was dismayed to see how primitive the tweens interests are. It would be nice to see them have interests in things that are more important than games and pictures. No wonder so many don't do well in school! Interesting hub.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      LOL FullOfLoveSites. I have to admit that this adult likes to play games, games and more games online as well. Sudoku is currently my game of choice.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 5 years ago from United States

      They like to play games, games and just games online...

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for visiting and commenting Brett.Tesol and My Minds Eye53. Parents certainly do need to watch their kids carefully when they are on the internet. They will venture out and explore if given too much rein.

      Brett, I was hoping to be able to give advice, but it seems like games, and homework would be the best choice for hubs. I wasn't sure I could do either very well, so I settled on just writing a hub and letting other Hubbers take up those topics. I may try to do some of those somehow, but the topics seem vast enough to share.

    • My Minds Eye53 profile image

      My Minds Eye53 5 years ago from Tennessee

      Our tweens and young teens look up cheats for games they play, do work for extra credit the school provides on-line. They are watched very carefully, they are not allowed on the computer without an adult present and for only and hour a day unless it is for a special school project.

      The reason for this is that a relative that will remain nameless, did not have any supervision what so ever was looking up porn sites and eventually crashed his computer after having it only a few months. They took it to get it fixed and were told what was on there. So the computer was taken away. Too bad, it could have been a great tool for him.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      An interesting article, although as a teacher, the results are not a surprise. How do you plan to target your hubs to this? Will you be writing about the latest tween games?

      Up, interesting and socially SHARED.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you GreenLotus for your comment and input. I was surprised when they said they don't look up information, and you're right, it is heartening to see that they are relying on the guidance of the adults in their lives.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I think your survey makes sense. If I were a tween (and I often think like one) I'd search for fun photos and videos too!

      This also proves how important parenting is to tweens who rely on the advice and guidance of adults and teachers.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      alocsin - I was hoping to find some hub topics to help this age group. I now know that would require helping them with their homework. It is comforting, at least with the children and parent I interviewed, that they are using the internet safely. Thank you for your visit, comment and vote.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thank goodness I don't have any tweens, but thanks for showing their habits anyway. I think this hub should comfort many parents of the age group. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you teaches12345, DonnaCosmato, Pamela99, and Express10. The kids I interviewed are generally well behaved and follow their parents' instructions. Their parents do monitor their activity on the internet.

      I do know tweens who have Facebook accounts with their parents' permission. Yes, they have to lie about their age in order to get the account. They are "friends" with their parents and other relatives, and the whole family works at making sure that the kids are safe, and not sharing too much information.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      I think that parents should monitor their children's activities because I know at least 5 tweens from various backgrounds that all have lied to open Facebook and other social networking accounts, exposing them to people that their parents didn't approve of and presenting themselves as aged 18 or older. Very interesting hub!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      This is a very interesting topic. I no longer have young children but my grandchildren seem to use the Internet for school assignments and games. I am glad to know it seems children are using the internet appropriately.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Good investigative journalism and what interesting results. It's nice to know that kids are using the Internet safely, isn't it?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great hub topic filled with good information. Tweens today are so into technology and use it to social network and play games. It can be a useful tool but parents need to keep an eye open to how it is used. Voted up!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      That's good that they are doing safe things. Hopefully the parents are monitoring what they do on there.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, there are parents supporting 'lying' to get a facebook account. But from what I can tell on my daughter's friends accounts (they are all currently the min age), they are interested in 'liking' movies and books and youtube videos rather than sharing personally identifying info.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Turtlewoman, thank you for visiting and commenting. Facebook does have minimum age requirements, but I'm sure that some kids do get away with getting their own accounts.

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Some Tweens are even using their older brother's information to create Facebook pages. My goodness, what is this world coming to?

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      That's interesting msviolets. I was surprised when they said no to searching for non-school information, but it may have been the way I worded my question. "Personal stuff" might have been too personal maybe, signifying they don't look for relationship advice online. But they did say they look up information on games so they are searching for information about things that interest them.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 5 years ago

      I have a young teen and a nearly tween..and search history shows they do look up things just because they're interested. The nearly tween looks up anything she's currently fascinated by.

      My tween/teen prefers fun stuff.